Filmmaker uncovers history of Billingshurst

JPCT S14100011x 270214 Billingshurst. Video maker, Charles Chatwin -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140227-102808001
JPCT S14100011x 270214 Billingshurst. Video maker, Charles Chatwin -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140227-102808001

A 75-year-old filmmaker will be premiering a new documentary on the history of Billingshurst, which he produced single-handedly.

Shot in high-definition over the course of a year, Slinfold resident Charles Chatwin said he took on the ambitious project for the Billingshurst Local History Society, of which his wife, Diana, is on the committee for.

“The committee wanted to produce its own DVD and I thought I’d volunteer.

“I’m a semi-professional filmmaker and a one-man crew, so I always try and explore what I can do creatively on my own.”

An hour-long, the documentary entitled ‘Billingshurt: The History of a West Sussex Village’ takes the viewer on a journey from Roman times to the present.

“It looks at people who made an impact on the village, some for good and one whose criminal activity led to his burial in the convict cemetery in Bermuda.”

The film also shows how the village was developed over the years, including the impact of the Arun Navigation, the Wey and Arun Canal.

Charles’ fascination with filmmaking stems back to his first television before the break out of World War II.

“I was born in February 1939 in Sutton, which was just in the transmission area of Alexandra Palace.

“My parents bought a nine inch TV, which was the biggest you could get at the time.

“Come to the war it was switched off and as a child I was told it would one day have moving pictures again and I got excited when it finally did – that led to my enthusiasm.”

Not only was the documentary shot and edited entirely by Charles, but he also narrated the story.

Starting out as a simple hobby during overseas business trips, once retired Charles began to create newsreels for Slinfold Village Hall and shot amateur dramatic productions.

“In the newsreels I used to do one story just for fun – I did one about the local village pub being turned into a space rocket.

“It was like Monty Python.”

Comedy aside, Charles’ Billingshurst documentary includes new footage, interviews, old pictures and historic records to tell its fascinating tale.

Billingshurst Local History Society will be screening the documentary at their next meeting on Thursday, March 13, after which copies on DVD (£10) and Blu-ray (£13) will be available to buy.

For more details about the society email secretary Gillian Knight at

To contact Charles telephone 01403 790293 or email